Turning One in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Celebrating my daughter’s first birthday with an English high tea on the first  day of a  nine day trip to the Kgalagadi  Transfrontier Park ( a desert) has to  go down as a  memorable event in our  family’s life.

Combined with the first rain storm of the season which promised much in terms of the lightning and wind but that sadly delivered relatively less rain than expected was also awesome.

This was our first opportunity to visit this park and I am kicking myself that I had not been  sooner.  I will certainly return.

September proved to be a good choice for the park both for photography and weather.  We avoided the cold days of winter which go down to -12C at times as well as the extreme heat of summer.

Though we had a few days   heading towards the 40’s most days were windy and dry with the occasional dust devil passing through the land rover.  This was not great for camera and lens which need regularly clean up both externally and on sensor and lens glass.

As to the wildlife I was amazed at the amount of birdlife particularly birds of prey.  Pale chanting  goshawk, ovambo sparrow hawk, red necked, lanner and pygmy falcons, tawny eagles, booted eagle to my surprise!, martial, black chested and brown snake  eagles,  secretary birds and  kori  bustards in abundance.  Whitebacked vultures, verreaux’s, spotted, white faced and scops owls.  I saw , my first purple roller and  swallow tailed bee-eaters as  well as  a myriad of  smaller birds, many of which I had not seen  before such as red headed finch and Kalahari scrub robins and  fiscal  shrike (western version).

As to the wildlife, cats proved elusive,  particularly lions which I expected to see more of.  However the best  sighting was of  three Cheetah that headed out of the Nossob  river towards  my car,  An adult female with two sub-adult  inquisitive cubs.  Sadly I missed the springbok kill that occurred an hour later! Such is the  disappointment of a wildlife photographer

As one of my friends eloquently put it  “everything is  either f…ing or  fighting at this time (spring)”.  This proved to be true with gemsbok, giraffe, springbok, ground squirrels  and  wildebeest battling and  jousting for position.

Other highlights  were a lanner falcon with sand grouse kill and  a leopard sighted at some distance and a  small spotted genet at the Nossob hide, brown hyena and spotted hyena, suricate, cape  cobra  and black backed Jackals (aplenty)

Sadly I missed out on a wonderful leopard sighting at  Kwanganaus waterhole, a resident that regularly inhabits a tree next to the waterhole.  My neighbors saw it the following  day.

I used  my full range of lenses  predominantly my Minolta 300mm f4  with  a  1.4 x converter as well as the 50mm , 24mm and 35mm and 85mm depending on mood and time of day.  After 10am the light was very  bright for photography and so  switched predominantly to landscape panoramic shots (stitching of  multiple images  using a polarizer to bring out  richer colors.)

The trip form Johannesburg was round trip of 3500 kilometers.  My  tripod  mount that fits onto the door of the landy with my  newly acquired  manfrotto hydrostatic tripod head was amazing except when the dust or the cold early mornings prevented me from closing the car window .

The big  question Kruger or  Kgalagadi? ..Well they are so different and both have  a place in my heart.  For  young  kids (as  per mine), I believe  Kruger offers more variety  but if you want to see  few vehicles then Kgalagadi has my bet.  On day  two I saw  my  first car  after  4 hours of driving!!  Go there before the secret breaks out! I  would be more than willing to host and  run a regular photographic tour to the park if anyone is interested.  My good friend  Michael  Spencer Wilson is an experienced 4×4 guide and can handle the logistics of such a trip.  Give  me a call and I will put you in contact with him.  All camping and catering could be provided  for and  my tricked out landy is the perfect platform  for  photography…and those cold beers from the engel fridge are to die  for  in the midday heat of the desert.  Cheers for now.

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